Momona stabbing death: Mother says son left broken

Brodie Graham Champion in court today. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Brodie Graham Champion in court today. Photo: Gregor Richardson

Both families involved in a fatal stabbing in Momona say they feel let down by the justice system. 

Brodie Graham Champion, 21, came before the High Court at Dunedin this morning where he was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Grant Jopson. 

The Jopson family, in a statement, said they were re-traumatised first when the Crown dropped a murder charge and then when the possibility of home detention was raised. 

“Sentencing is supposed to denounce the criminal, hold him to account for the harm he has caused, and deter other from committing the same offence. We don’t believe any of this has been achieved in this case.” 

Outside court a tearful Robyn Champion, the defendant’s mother, called for a law change to protect people in her son’s situation. 

“In this country people shouldn’t be able to come into your property to attack you, and you’re not allowed to do anything to defend yourselves . . . all you can do is dial 111 and hope like hell they get there in time.” 

She said her son was haunted by the events of the past year. 

Grant Jopson
Grant Jopson
“He keeps saying ‘mum I was forced into a situation and they made me take someone’s life’,” Ms Champion said. 

“He talks about how broken he is because he never had a real dad growing up and he took someone else’s.” 

It began in the week before the stabbing when Champion was in Mosgiel and mistakenly believed his 22-year-old neighbour was involved in a road-rage incident. 

On October 15 last year, he confronted the man’s mother as she walked a dog, swearing and yelling at her. 

Champion gave her a “threatening message” to pass on to her son and when she told her husband what had happened he left the house. 

“Right, I am going to sort this out,” Mr Jopson said. 

On seeing him and his son arrive, Champion, who had been clipping his hedge, dashed inside the house and grabbed a 20cm kitchen knife. 

A heated argument ensued. 

“They were a few metres apart and were yelling at each other,” court documents said. 

Mr Jopson told the man he had been wrong about the earlier driving accusations and urged him to put down the weapon. 

When the defendant backed off, waving the knife in front of him, the father and son followed. 

Police search the garden of the house where the stabbing happened. Photo: Linda Robertson
Police search the garden of the house where the stabbing happened. Photo: Linda Robertson
Mr Jopson armed himself with an aluminium broom and hit Champion a few times, during which the head of the implement fell off. 

His son threw a terracotta pot, which found its mark. 

After being cornered, the court heard Champion was “swinging the knife around wildly”, and lunged two or three times. 

Mr Jopson sustained a stomach wound and collapsed on the grass. 

“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, it hurts,” he said. 

A post-mortem showed the 10-13cm-deep wound partially cut a vein and ended in the spine. 

The defendant immediately admitted to police he had stabbed the victim and said: “I warned them”. 

Crown prosecutor Craig Power said a term of imprisonment was warranted, to "mark the sanctity of life". 

Counsel Sarah Saunderson-Warner argued home detention was still a significant sentence and was appropriate given her client was deemed a low risk of reoffending. 

Character references, she said, described him as kind and generous, someone who had never displayed aggressive tendencies. 

Justice Dunningham accepted there was "an element of self-defence" involved in Champion's actions and noted he had no history of violence. 

A psychological report shed light on the defendant's family background of instability which had led to a diagnosis of PTSD, she said. 

Brenda Gamble said Mr Jopson, her husband of 33 years, was a selfless man, a good guy. 

"Grant was fiercely protective of his family and he died protecting us," she said. 

"My man, my friend . . . shouldn't have been taken away from us like this. The trauma and grief has ripped my insides to pieces." 

Mr Jopson's brother-in-law Les Gamble told Champion he would never be forgiven. 

"You had no reason to kill Grant and you had no right," he said. "You've made the world a much poorer place." 

Ms Gamble outlined the pain of being without her partner. 

"Grant was a loud character and made his presence known. The silence of being alone is hard to bear," she said. 

"My poor Grant. He wasn't supposed to die." 

 

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